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Money, I have heard my parents mention, does not grow on trees. I found the maxim to be quite true in subsequent years, for never did I find one with money growing on it. It came in quite handy when it was my turn to bring up my own monkeys… umm, children. “Money does not grow on trees!” I declared to them in no uncertain tones, eyebrows knit to perfection, whenever there was a clamour for things beyond our shoe-string budget. Yet after all these years, I have reason to think that my parents were wrong and by repeating their wisdom ad nauseam to my monkeys… err children, I have been guilty of perpetuating a gross untruth.

Money it seems does grow on trees and in plenty too.

In some mysterious and unknown part of this world, that is unknown to the majority of us, there are chosen ones harvesting money from money trees. It is all sheer guess work on my part having not yet seen it with my own eyes, not even on Discovery Channel or the National Geographic. Hence I am willing to concede a point that it could very well be money bushes or even plants or maybe vines twining merrily on supports with money hanging in bunches like grapes. It goes without saying that the money so grown is in the form of mighty dollars, not your cheap local rupee. Cheee, how could you even think that?!

I wonder if they are harvested annually or bi-annually. Or does the money tree (or bush or plant or vine) bloom only once in a year like the nishagandhi flower. Perhaps it’s only once in a blue moon. If so, this must be blue moon time. For how else is it that I find myself wading knee deep in requests from unknown strangers eager to offload of their plenty on a total stranger like me, living continents away? There are a lot of things I desire to have more and more and even more of. Money unfortunately, does not figure anywhere in the list. I am, sadly so, totally content with what I have. Yet I have these strangers literally begging me to accept their millions.

Take Gloria Caldwell for instance. I assure you, I don’t know her from Eve. Sitting in a hospital bed with only a laptop for company in her last moments of life, in her words, she writes to me, someone she has never met, entrusting me with fulfilling her one final wish. She is only 58 years old. No age to die as yet, I know. The poor lady, suffering from terminal cancer, has been written off by her doctor and is all set to take the final plunge. Before she leaves on that final journey she says, she wants me to invest her money, a total of 3.2 million dollars, in any organization of MY choice and have the proceeds distributed annually among charity organizations, the poor and the needy.

And you thought trust was dead in this world?!

She is not the only one though who has approached me with sack-full of money (read dollars). Every other day I drown in a deluge of mails from good Samaritans offering me of their millions, All For Free. Then there are those others who knowing how delicate this act of offering money is, tactfully and with due consideration to the vestiges of feelings of pride that may rear its ugly head putting their effort to naught, try to make it look like I have won a lottery. All I have to do to collect the moolah, they tell me helpfully, is to reach their choice of destination with the necessary paraphernalia, a couple of empty suitcases. Some want the token use of my bank account as a transit point, no doubt to expand the scope of their philanthropic endeavor, in return for which I would be amply rewarded with the green bits of paper.

How altruistic of all these fine specimens of the human variety to want to make me richer by millions! Imagine such sentiments existing in the very same world where you have next door neighbors who wouldn’t give you the time of the day even if asked ever so sweetly. The earth is indeed one lovely planet to contain such generous people and anyone who tells me otherwise can go burn in hell. Where else will I find wonderful people who care for nondescript old me, a total stranger to them, especially when the rest of the planets in the solar system are devoid of humans?

It makes me feel pretty awful about myself as a person, this extreme generosity on their part.

Look at me. I don’t let any one touch my pink towel. It is mine, I say stamping my dainty foot indignantly if anyone so much as glances at it. ‘Don’t you dare touch my music CDs, they are mine!’ I yell when I find them left lying around minus covers. Just the other day I was telling the junior son that he would not, repeat not, take the Sony Cybershot with him to his hostel. It is mine, a gift from the senior son. ‘Do you hear??’ I emphasized, ‘it is M-I-N-E!’ And all this was happening while good souls out there were tirelessly and unselfishly trying to make me richer by millions, offering me of their plenty all for free. Almost makes me cringe within, thinking what sort of a horrible human being I am. Tears of shame and remorse at my selfish nature fill my eyes.

Tears of shame and remorse may well overflow and wash my soul clean making me a better person. But it does not solve the mystery about the money tree (bush, plant or vine). Where on Earth does it grow? Who are the chosen ones who harvest it? Why do they want to disburse it and not store it in warehouses built for the purpose for their own future use? How do they decide who the recipients are? Is it by divine intervention that they choose whom the money should be offered to or do these mysterious keepers of the magic money tree (bush, plant or vine) use modern methods like searching the net diligently for e-mail addresses that somehow ‘speak’ to them, telling them, so-and-so is worthy and craving for the millions they have harvested? If so they made a blooper.

Sigh. There are many things I want more and more and even more of, but money is not one of them.

© Shail Mohan 2008

Reposted from shail-mohan blogs @ sulekha.com, featured in the ‘creative expressions’ category.